The Madras High Court has ruled that juvenile offenders must be offered specific reformative treatment as prescribed by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, rather than being treated simply punitively.
The Madras High Court, while setting aside three years of detention handed to an adolescent by a Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) for impregnating a girl older to him, observed that the problem of child criminality, like other societal problems, is linked to the faults and maladjustment of our society.
Children in confrontation with the law should be regarded as children in difficult situations, according to Justice AD Jagadish Chandira, and the juvenile justice system’s approach should be oriented at treating these children’s vulnerabilities and ensuring their rehabilitation.
“Juveniles who are participating in criminal activity are not criminals. They are, in some situations, victims of society. Juvenile delinquency can be stopped at an early stage if extra care is given at home and in school,” Justice AD Jagadish Chandira ruled in a ruling on the boy’s plea on Friday.
A significant role is played by parents and teachers, rather than labelling individuals as criminals or delinquents, it is critical to recognise their needs and provide opportunities for change. The judge believes that rather than a punitive approach, a liberal approach to repair and rehabilitate the kid is required.The impact of pandemic lockdowns on minors’ mental health was also examined by the High Court.
“As meant by the proverb, “idle mind is the devil’s playground”, it is painful to note that during the pandemic frozen period, the children were left with the option of either “idiot box” or “smart phones” making them less proximate to their parents and care takers and thereby susceptible to infection of their minds with much more impact than the pandemic illness.”
The judge overturned the Thiruvallur district JJB’s March 17, 2021 ruling to imprison the youngster for three years in a special home, citing incidences of extreme and reckless behaviour by school students that went viral on social media.
The case involves a 15-year-old boy and a 17-year-old female having an affair. When her mother forbade such an affair, the girl went to a relative’s house, where the boy persuaded her that if they had a sexual connection, her mother would agree to their marriage.
“Punishing the minor boy who enters in a relationship with a minor girl who were in the grips of their hormones and biological changes which is otherwise normative development in the children, is against the principles of the best interest of the child,” the court stated.
In the year 2019, the girl became pregnant. The girl’s mother later filed a complaint. In his judgement, the court stated that the prosecution failed to adequately determine the girl’s age. As a result, it would be risky to agree with the board’s conclusion that the petitioner committed an offence punishable under the Pocso Act.
“In the case on hand, the irresponsible behaviour on the part of the petitioner and the victim girl, who hail from the lower strata of the society, is nothing but, a mirror image of the lacuna of the society in taking sufficient care for others, in all justice has been denied to the petitioner in conflict in law.”